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Recorded Historic Landmarks




Historic Landmarks
Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, Mission (RTHL 1990)
Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks

The Recorded Texas Historic Landmark
(RTHL) designation is awarded to historic
structures deemed worthy of preservation for
their architectural integrity and historical
associations. Authorized by the Texas
Legislature under Texas Government Code,
Chapter 442, RTHL is the highest honor the
state can bestow on historic structures in
Texas. Properties so designated are afforded a
measure of legal protection and become part
of the recorded history of the state’s built
    The RTHL designation process is
administered as part of the historical marker
program of the Texas Historical Commission
(THC). The THC, the state agency for
historic preservation, has been instrumental
since its establishment in 1953 in coordinat-
ing the marking of Texas’ significant sites,
persons, events and structures. The RTHL
designation is conveyed by an Official Texas
Historical Marker; designation comes only
through participation in the marker process.
    RTHL designation is denoted by any of
the following:
• Official Texas Historical Building
• Official Texas Historical Building
  Medallion with interpretive plate
• Official Texas Historical Subject Marker
  when the final line of the inscription reads
  “Recorded Texas Historic Landmark.”

El Paisano Hotel, Marfa (RTHL 1979)

   Cr iter ia For Designation

The THC’s Official Texas Marker Policies
(available by request from the History
Programs Division) contain the criteria for
RTHL designation. Basically, a structure must
be at least 50 years of age and should retain its
architectural integrity from a period of at least
50 years ago. The structure should be in good
repair and an exemplary model of preservation.
In no case can a structure be considered for
RTHL designation if it has been moved in the
past 50 years or if artificial (aluminum, asbestos,
vinyl, etc.) siding applied to the exterior within
the preceding 50 years covers and/or alters its his-
toric architectural materials or features. Structures
also should reflect the appearance they exhibit-
ed during their association with a significant
person or event.
     RTHL status can be attained for any
historic structure, including but not limited
to bridges, commercial buildings, churches,
residences and schoolhouses. Whether vernac-
ular or architect-designed, if the structure has
retained integrity and its history can be docu-
mented according to Official Texas Marker
Policies, it is a likely candidate for designa-
tion. If you would like a preliminary opinion
on whether a particular property meets RTHL
criteria, please send current snapshots of all
sides of the exterior, a photo or photocopy of
the structure’s historic appearance and a cover
letter giving a brief history to the THC’s
History Programs Division.

Obtain the Official Texas Historical Marker
Guidelines and Application Form through the
THC or your local county historical

      Benefits of RTHL Designation:
5 Recognition that a property is of local,
  regional or state significance
5 Protection for up to 90 days from exterior
  alterations, including demolition or relocation
5 Ad valorem tax exemptions, if granted by
  local taxing authorities
5 Eligibility for state preservation grant funds
5 Inclusion in the Texas Historic Sites Atlas
5 Technical preservation assistance through
  the THC

XIT Ranch Headquarters, Channing (RTHL 1962)

commission. Read through the booklet careful-
ly. It contains information on criteria and
procedures involved in the process. If you have
any questions, don’t hesitate to contact the
History Programs Division staff at the THC.
     The components of a marker application
are a narrative history, complete with reference
notes, bibliography and construction history
and information on the persons, events and/or
organizations associated with the property. The
narrative must be prepared at the local level
either by the owner, a hired researcher or some
other interested person or organization. Sample
narrative histories are available from the THC.
     Black-and-white photographs of all sides
of the structure should be included, as well as
at least one historic photograph that verifies the
integrity of the structure’s current appearance.
A current photograph taken from approximate-
ly the same angle as the historic photograph is
of great assistance. A site map and floor plan
should be included as well. The application
form should be completed, then the entire
packet should be given to the appropriate
county historical commission for review. The
THC does not accept applications without the
approval of the county historical commission,
except in rare cases of a direct appeal. THC
staff reviews each property for historical and
architectural significance to determine eligibili-
ty for the designation.
     The historical marker itself is an integral
part of the designation process. The cost of
the marker, once the property has received
approval, must be borne locally. There are no
state funds with which to purchase markers. A
price list is in the application form. THC staff
prepare the marker text, but owners have an
opportunity to review and approve the inscrip-
tion before it is sent to the foundry for casting.

Historic photo, The Alamo, San Antonio (RTHL 1962)
Current owners, restorers of the property or
persons dead for less than 20 years will not
be mentioned in the marker inscription.


The built environment can be a marvelous
reflection of the heritage of an area. Through
the RTHL designation, buildings, residences
and other structures are recognized as impor-
tant, identifiable elements in the broader pat-
terns that make up the fabric of Texas history.
As such, it is important that these structures,
especially once they are designated, retain
their basic historical integrity. If significant
cosmetic or structural changes, including the
relocation or demolition of the structure, are
desired, the owner will conform to the
provisions of the Texas Government Code,

May-Hickey House, Yoakum vicinity (RTHL 1988)
Chapter 442, Section 442.006(f ), which
state that:

     A person may not damage the historical or
architectural integrity of a structure the commission
has designated as a Recorded Texas Historic
Landmark without notifying the commission at least
60 days before the date on which the action causing
the damage is to begin. After receiving the notice, the
commission may waive the waiting period or, if the
commission determines that a longer period will
enhance the chance for preservation, it may require
an additional waiting period of not longer than
30 days. On the expiration of the time limits
imposed by this section, the person may proceed, but
must proceed not later than the 180th day after the
date on which notice was given or the notice is
considered to have expired.

    If appreciable or unwarranted changes are
observed to have been made on a landmark
structure, the State Marker Review Board may
withdraw the designation and the marker.
Historic photo, Pampa Post Office Building, Pampa (RTHL 1992)

 Violation of this law is subject to a civil
 penalty of not less than $50 nor more than
 $1,000 for each day of violation.
      To ensure the continued landmark desig-
 nation, the THC strongly encourages owners
 considering changes to their buildings to
 contact its Architecture Division as early in
 the planning process as possible. THC staff
 architects can provide technical advice and
 referrals for sources of hard-to-locate materi-
 als. In addition, by consulting with staff early,
 property owners can avoid incorporating
 treatments that may be inappropriate for or
 destructive to the particular historic land-
 mark. The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards
 for the Treatment of Historic Properties are
 utilized in project reviews. Copies are avail-
 able upon request, or may be found on the
 web at
      While the RTHL designation and listing
 in the National Register of Historic Places
 employ many of the same criteria, there are
 significant differences between the two pro-
 grams. Only RTHL designation requires
the participation of the county historical
commission and the purchase of an alumi-
num marker. Only National Register
designation allows for federal tax benefits for
rehabilitation and federal grant assistance
when funds are available. RTHL designation
does not automatically guarantee listing in
the National Register or vice versa. Likewise,
RTHL designation is not a prerequisite for
National Register listing or vice versa. For
further information on the administration of
National Register programs in Texas, contact
the THC’s History Programs Division.

         Fur ther Assistance

Further information on the preservation of
historic structures and on the Recorded Texas
Historic Landmark designation may be found
in the following publications. Please call or
write the THC to obtain copies.

Official Texas Historical Marker Guidelines
and Application Form. Revised annually.
Documenting Local History.
The Medallion, bimonthly publication of the
THC, available through free subscription.
Remembering Texas: Guidelines for Historical
Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for
Rehabilitation and Guidelines for
Rehabilitating Historic Buildings,
Washington D.C.: U.S. Department
of the Interior, National Park Service,
Preservation Assistance Division.
St. James Methodist Church, Waco (RTHL 1986)

     Preservation Briefs, Numbers 1-41, U.S.
     Department of the Interior, National Park
     Service, Preservation Assistance Division,
     Technical Preservation Services:

     1. The Cleaning and Waterproofing of
        Masonry Buildings
     2. Repointing Mortar Joints in Historic
        Brick Buildings
     3. Conserving Energy in Historic Buildings
     4. Roofing for Historic Buildings
     5. The Preservation of Historic Adobe Buildings
     6. The Dangers of Abrasive Cleaning on
        Historic Buildings
     7. The Preservation of Historic Glazed
        Architectural Terra Cotta
     8. Aluminum and Vinyl Siding on Historic Buildings
     9. The Repair of Historic Wooden Windows

10. Exterior Paint Problems on Historic Woodwork
11. Rehabilitating Historic Storefronts
12. The Preservation of Historic Pigmented
    Structural Glass
13. The Repair and Thermal Upgrading of
    Historic Steel Windows
14. New Exterior Additions to Historic
    Buildings: Preservation Concerns
15. Preservation of Historic Concrete:
    Problems and General Approaches
16. The Use of Substitute Materials on
    Historic Building Exteriors
17. Architectural Character — Identifying the
    Visual Aspects of Historic Buildings as an Aid
    to Preserving Their Character
18. Rehabilitating Interiors In Historical
19. The Repair and Replacement of Historic
    Wooden Shingle Roofs

20. The Preservation of Historic Barns
21. Repairing Historic Flat Plaster — Walls
    and Ceilings
22. The Preservation and Repair of Historic

23. Preserving Historic Ornamental Plaster

24. Heating, Ventilating, and Cooling Historic
    Buildings: Problems and Recommended

25. The Preservation of Historic Signs

26. The Preservation and Repair of Historic
    Log Buildings
27. The Maintenance and Repair of
    Architectural Cast Iron
28. Painting Historic Interiors
29. The Repair, Replacement, and
    Maintenance of Historic Slate Roofs
30. The Preservation and Repair of Historic
    Clay Tile Roofs
31. Mothballing Historic Buildings
32. Making Historic Properties Accessible
33. The Preservation and Repair of Stained
    and Leaded Glass
34. Applied Decoration for Historic Interiors:
    Preserving Composition Ornament
35. Understanding Old Buildings: The
    Process of Architectural Investigation
36. Protecting Cultural Landscapes: The
    Planning, Treatment and Management of
    Historic Landscapes
37. Appropriate Methods for Reducing Lead
    Paint Hazards in Historic Housing
38. Removing Graffiti from Historic Masonry
39. Holding the Line: Controlling Unwanted
    Moisture in Historic Buildings
40. Preserving Historic Ceramic Tile Floors
41. The Seismic Retrofit of Historic Buildings:
    Keeping Preservation in the Forefront

The above preservation briefs, as well as
other helpful publications and information,
can be accessed also through the National
Park Service web site:
     Detail, Hutchings, Sealy & Co. Building, Galveston
                                         (RTHL 1992)

               Keep in Mind
5 Owner permission must be secured prior
  to designation.
5 Structures designated as RTHLs do not
  have to be open to the public.
5 Owners must notify the THC before
  alterations, other than normal mainte-
  nance procedures, are made to the struc-
  ture. Such alterations would include
  re-roofing, window or door replacement,
  addition of artificial siding, reconstruc-
  tion of historic elements, additions or
  porch projects.
5 RTHL status is a permanent designation
  which is retained with the property even
  upon a transfer of ownership.
5 Designation applies to exteriors only.
5 RTHL designation does not imply
  eligibility for federal tax incentives for

History Programs Division

   Architecture Division

 P.O. BOX 12276 • AUSTIN, TEXAS 78711-2276
 PHONE 512/463-5853 • FAX 512/475-3122
             800/753-2989 (TDD)

                Revised 2001

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